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COVID-19 STATS

MAP: Where are vaccination rates highest in France?

France has an impressive Covid-19 vaccination coverage compared to the vast majority of countries around the world. But there are significant disparities between its regions.

A French nurse tends to a Covid patient. There are significantly varying vaccination rates between France's regions.
A French nurse tends to a Covid patient. There are significantly varying vaccination rates between France's regions. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)

France has the tenth highest level of fully Covid vaccinated rates in the world, with only Italy and Portugal surpassing it within the EU, according to Our World in Data.

But within France, the level of Covid vaccine coverage differs significantly by region. 

The most vaccinated regions are in the west of the country with Brittany, where 81.6 percent of the population is fully vaccinated – counted by French authorities as someone who has either received two doses of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca, or a single dose of Janssen. People who previously had Covid are counted as vaccinated with a single dose. Booster shots are not included in this data. 

Within Metropolitan France (i.e French territory in Europe), Corsica has the lowest rate – only 64.7 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, with 66.3 percent having received at least one dose.

Following Brittany, Normandy (79.6 percent) the Pays de Loire (79.4 percent) have the highest fully vaccinated populations.

Besides Corsica, the least fully vaccinated regions in Metropolitan France are Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (72 percent) and the greater Paris Île-de-France region (72.9 percent).

All of these regions however compare favourably to most of France's overseas territories in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. 

States of medical emergency have been declared in Martinique and La Réunion. 

In Martinique, demand for places in intensive care units is running to close to double capacity. Only 35 percent of the population had received a full course of vaccination by December 27th. It has seen large-scale demonstrations in recent weeks against public health measures imposed by the government in Paris.

On the neighbouring island of Guadeloupe (where less than half of the population were vaccinated before Christmas), protesters stormed the local legislature on December 24th in anger sparked by Covid rules. 

In La Réunion, situated in the Indian Ocean, a little over 61 percent of the eligible population received a full course of vaccination. Intensive care units are overflowing to 120 percent of their capacity. 

Vaccination was opened up for children aged 5-11 last week - although this age group are not subject to the health pass. 

The level of vaccination among children aged 0-11 is understandably lowest - more than 99 percent have not received a single dose. 

The next least vaccinated age group are 12-17 year olds, of whom 18.9 percent are completely unvaccinated. They are followed by the 30-49 year old age group where 9.85 percent are unvaccinated. 

In total, 8.5 percent of the French population aged over 12-years-old, more than five million people, are still to receive a vaccine according to covidtracker.fr

As a proportion of the total population, including those who are not eligible for vaccination, close to 80 percent of people in France have received at least one shot. 

The most vaccinated age group are the 65-74 year-olds, 70 percent of whom have received a booster shot - a requirement for them to hold a valid health pass.

More than 94 percent of this age group have had at least two doses of vaccine - which is just as well because elderly people are among the most vulnerable when it comes to serious forms of Covid-19. 

However, among the over 80s, the proportion of those with least two vaccines drops to 86 percent. The government is trying to expand outreach to this age group putting in place a special helpline (0 800 730 957) that can be used to arrange vaccination via a home visit or to provide transport to a vaccination site.

The line is open everyday from 6am to 10pm. Friends or family of people over 80 can call this number to arrange vaccination on their behalf. 

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COVID-19 STATS

How bad will France’s Covid-19 summer wave be and could there be new restrictions?

Daily Covid-19 cases in France topped 200,000 on Tuesday as infections rise sharply. Here is what we can expect for the seventh wave of the pandemic in the country.

How bad will France's Covid-19 summer wave be and could there be new restrictions?

France has seen a huge increase in the number of Covid-19 infections in recent days.

The country was reporting an average of 100,000 cases per day as of July 2nd but by Tuesday July 5th the daily case count had topped 200,000.

Hospital admissions and admissions into intensive care are also on the rise, but the number of Covid-related deaths has not risen. 

Here is what you can expect for the coming weeks:

Cases to continue rising – For the moment the number of cases is expected to continue growing sharply, with variants BA.4 and BA.5 currently representing over 75 percent of cases in France.

However, even though infections continue to rise sharply (around 60 percent up on last week), the rate of growth appears to be slowing in recent days, accoridng to French data scientist and founder of the Covid Tracker website Guillaume Rozier.

“This [current] stability in cases is an encouraging sign, because the number of cases had been increasing for the past month. There is usually about a three week lag between the peak in cases and the peak in deaths deaths. We still have to be cautious and wait for another week and a half,” said Rozier in one of his regular Twitter threads.

In contrast to the peak of infections during the fifth wave last winter, which saw over 500,000 cases reported a day, this wave is currently seeing an average of 100,000 cases per day, though the peak has not yet been reached. 

If you test positive while in France, here is a guide of what to do.

READ MORE: French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

Likely peak in late July – The seventh wave may reach its peak by the end of July in France, estimated Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, the president of the Scientific Council, on June 30th. The wave is likely to continue being fuelled by Omicron sub-variants, BA.4 and notably BA.5.

Regarding the number of hospitalisations, Marc Lavielle, a professor and researcher with the French National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology explained that we are “in a fairly steady pattern of exponential growth,” meaning that the “number of hospital admissions doubles every two weeks or so.”

This represents a much slower pace than at the beginning of the epidemic, when the number doubled in only three days. However, Lavielle warned that without restrictive measures the increase could accelerate. Deaths are currently at about 40 per day, but it is important to note that the deaths usually lag infections by three weeks.

In comparison to the end of June in 2021, only 22,000 cases were detected per day, whereas this summer saw around 70,000 per day at the end of June. Nevertheless, this wave has so far seen a lower number of admissions into critical care than last summer’s wave that was fuelled by the more dangerous Delta variant.

The severity of this variant and wave – So far, symptoms associated with this current wave are “standard for Omicron,” while the duration of symptoms seems to last a bit longer. Currently there is no data showing variants BA.4 and BA.5 are more dangerous than other variants in Omicron family, though evidence shows they are spreading faster. Mortality is also not higher than other variants based on current data.

“The main symptoms associated with BA.5 are fairly standard for Omicron: fatigue, cough, fever and headache. However, the likelihood of experiencing loss of taste or smell is higher than with BA.2,” explained Yannick Simonin, virologist and researcher at the University of Montpellier. He added that infected people also seem to be experiencing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea at higher rates.

The duration of symptoms for BA.5 appears to be closer to seven days, rather than four days, which was common for previous Omicron sub-variants. 

Ultimately, there is “currently no field data showing this sub-variant is more lethal than others in the Omicron family.” 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster in France?

How concerned should we be?

Based on observations from countries who have already experienced a BA.5 wave, like Portugal and South Africa, so far this wave has not caused a serious over-saturation of hospitals. H

However, there has still been significant increases in hospitalisations due to large number of cases. Therefore, experts recommend staying vigilant by wearing masks in enclosed spaces and crowded areas, as well as getting a second booster if eligible. So far, only 31 percent of over 80s have received their second booster shot. 

No return of health pass in metropolitan France.?

The president of the National Assembly announced over the weekend that France’s Covid-19 health pass, rolled out in the summer of 2021 to allow vaccinated individuals entry to bars and restaurants or cinemas, will not be renewed on August 1st.

Lawmakers are set to go over the bill concerning the country’s health security on Monday, July 11th, which is likely to extend some “essential provisions to face the continuation of the Covid-19 epidemic,” according to government spokesperson Olivier Véran.

Thus, there is a possibility that the health pass will be reinstated for border crossings, which would affect France’s overseas territories and Corsica. However, officials have clarified that the health pass will not be renewed in metropolitan France, despite the seventh wave. 

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